-The Telegraph-

"Delightful comedy"
-The Financial Times-

"I laughed a lot"
-The Stage-

The Play That Goes Wrong Tickets

One of the funniest shows in the West End

Critic Rating

19 September 2016, Duchess Theatre
Shaun Millis Shaun Millis
Now about to begin its third triumphant year, The Play That Goes Wrong has firmly cemented its place in history as bringing slapstick back to the West End in the 21st century. Mischief Theatre have come far from their Fringe roots, currently set to have three shows running simultaneously throughout London over winter.

When Mischief premiered The Comedy about a Bank Robbery earlier this year it easily left fans with some concerns as to whether they could still deliver, now with greater acclaim to live up to, bigger budgets to utilise and a move away from the formula that founded their success. The play was a huge success however and mixed up the genre to great effect. In contrast now, The Play That Goes Wrong feels slightly two-dimensional.

Those who have ever seen Michael Frayn’s comedy play-with-in-a-play masterpiece Noises Off will find it hard not to compare. It is here where The Play That Goes Wrong starts to feel not quite the perfect show.

Frayn’s play gives more depth to the characters (that is to say the characters of the actors playing the characters) allowing for more humour than straight up farce. True, The Play That Goes Wrong has flairs of that (in-fighting between the leading lady and the stage hand who wants to steal her role and the ego of the hammy actor who curtsies to audience reactions), however where Frayn gives three acts over the course of three different performances, allowing for development and jokes to build to a crescendo, Mischief take a much more hit-and-run approach.

That said, you have to be a very dour person to not spend the two hours in fits of giggles. It’s a universal style of comedy that you can’t imagine anyone could not find funny. The actors put their all into the physical comedy and one does wonder how they keep the stamina to throw themselves in, on and around the sets with such dedication each night. There are a few moments where long set up jokes are slowly driven to a brilliantly chaotic ending which drives the audience into spontaneous applause that feels like a far more genuine recognition of the comedic efforts rather than most shows.

Somehow The Play That Goes Wrong still manages to retain a Fringe feel to it, despite being hundreds of performances into a West End run. Perhaps it is the way the cast work through the audience frantically trying to prepare the set for the play before it starts, giving elements of audience interaction and improvisation or the occasions when they give sly glances to audience reactions. It just makes it feel that bit more alive, like anything could happen, a welcome addition to the West End’s normal feel of finely honed perfection.

It may not quite have the depth and perfection of some of the greats of farce, however it is certainly one of the funniest shows in the West End at the moment.

Reviewed by Shaun Millis

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The Telegraph
My only qualm about The Play That Goes Wrong is that in getting their play so dreadfully wrong night after night, they are also getting it absolutely right.
Sarah Hemming
With this amiably ridiculous show, Mischief Theatre joins a venerable tradition of deliberately dreadful drama... The cast’s physical skill is delightful and the production, directed by Mark Bell, builds to a delirious climax, as the cast doggedly plough on with their über-literal show while the disintegrating set forces them into a Beckett-like landscape. Shields stands out as the punctilious director, as do Dave Hearn as a genial, star-struck dimwit, and Lewis, who ends up marooned, Buster Keaton like, on a precarious, collapsing platform (courtesy of Nigel Hook’s splendidly reliable unreliable set).

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Mark Shenton
It is the outrageous, sometimes courageous inventiveness of the physical comedy that’s even more impressive. It may sometimes feel a little relentless, but the surprise is just how brilliantly sustained it all is. Director Mark Bell keeps the onstage energy from flagging, and Nigel Hook’s set is one of the stars of the evening. “This set is a bloody deathtrap,” complains the stage manager at one point. He’s right, but it has been choreographed to an inch of its life (not to mention those of its onstage companions). I’ve seen quite a few collapsing sets in the theatre, but few that have done so quite so convincingly.

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Fiona Mountford
Along with the rest of the enthusiastic audience, I laughed continually. Director Mark Bell also offers some ingenious, not to mention precision-drilled, physical comedy. You have to be meticulous to make things look this chaotic. Have a glass — or two — of wine beforehand and enjoy the ride.

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